What Is the Average Retirement Age?

The age U.S. workers tend to retire is 65. It’s different from the age where they become eligible for Social Security, and from when they hope to retire.

Written by Hilary Collins / July 12, 2022

Quick Bites

  • The average age when a U.S. worker retires is 65, up from 62 three decades ago.
  • Many U.S. workers plan their retirement date around when they become eligible for Social Security benefits and Medicare.
  • The average global retirement age is 62, but research hints that postponing your retirement until 66 could actually help you live longer.

Retirement—complicated, expensive and seemingly ever farther away. You’re not alone if you avoid thinking about it altogether because it’s so stressful. Almost half of investors do exactly that and stick their heads in the sand, according to research by Natixis Investment Managers, an asset manager.[1]

It might help allay your stress to better understand retirement age, the average worker’s outlook on retirement and some of the reasons underlying retirement decisions. So pull your head out of the sand and let’s dive in.

What is the average retirement age?

The average retirement age in the U.S. has risen in the past 30 years from 62 to 65, according to an American Enterprise Institute report.[2] The report by the public policy think tank points to several factors for the delay, including the improved health and longer lives of workers, the reduction of physically demanding jobs, shifts in Social Security and pensions and new health insurance features and costs.

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That said, many American workers don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire. About 36% of U.S. employees said they’ll never have enough money to stop working, while another 59% said they may need to work longer than they planned before taking retirement, according to Natixis. Those surveyed voiced fears about inflation and interest rates that might impact their retirement savings, while most say they’re increasingly unable to rely on a pension or Social Security to fund their retirement.

So while the average age is 65 now, 41% of respondents to the Natixis poll said it will “take a miracle” for them to be able to retire securely.

What is the Social Security retirement age?

One of the major factors Americans consider to determine their retirement age is when they’ll receive their full Social Security benefits. Though you become eligible for benefits at 62, the age at which your Social Security benefits fully kick in will be somewhere between 65 and 67, depending on the year of your birth.[3]

Tip

The Social Security Administration offers a simple online tool to calculate the month and year you’ll reach your full retirement age.

U.S. workers tend to claim their Social Security benefits either at 62 or at their full retirement age, according to The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.[4] Since 65 is also the most common age that Medicare eligibility kicks in, that also helps to explain its popularity as a retirement age.

When do people plan on retiring?

The actual age that people retire at is different from the reality of when they actually retire. Natixis’ research found that globally, the average age at which people plan to retire is 62.[6] That number is highest for Baby Boomers, who plan to retire at 65 on average, and lowest for Millennials, who plan to retire at 60.

Fun Fact

You might consider pushing back your retirement date: 2016 research from Oregon State University found that retiring after the age of 65 can drop your mortality rate by 11%.[7] It seems that delaying your retirement by even one year makes it likely that you’ll live longer!

Since Generation X and Millennials are still years away from their theoretical retirement dates, we’ll have to wait and see if they retire when they hope to or if their circumstances and plans change.

You don’t have to fly blind into retirement. Financial advisors can help you prepare for retirement with increasingly sophisticated tools.

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Daniel Rahill, a certified public accountant and managing director of Chicago-based Wintrust Wealth Management, says that Wintrust uses a system that models retirement outcomes based on age, risk, investment choices and other factors to see their odds of retiring at a certain age. The system then runs your probability of being able to retire at a given year through 1,000 iterations of what could happen with the stock market.

“It will give you a report card with a number showing the likelihood they can retire at a certain age and how much money they’ll have left when they die. Of course, they have to give you [age of death] as one of their assumptions. I like to pick age 92 myself,” Rahill says.

Retirement is a complicated topic with widely varying viewpoints for those in different countries, generational cohorts, and, of course, financial situations. But don’t avoid the question of retirement because you are afraid of the answer. Instead, jump in and see what your future holds. You might just be pleasantly surprised, or at least find that you’re not alone.

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Article Sources
  1. “United States Ranks 17th for Retiree Wellbeing in Natixi Investment Managers’ 2021 Global Retirement Index as Savers Hope for a Miracle,” Sept. 14, 2021, Natixis. https://www.im.natixis.com/us/press-release/united-states-ranks-17th-for-retiree-wellbeing-in-natixis-investment-managers-2021-global-retirement-index
  2. “The Average US Retirement Age Increased over the Past 30 Years,” May 5, 2022, American Enterprise Institute. https://www.aei.org/research-products/report/the-average-us-retirement-age-increased-over-the-past-30-years/
  3. “Normal Retirement Age,” Social Security Administration. https://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/nra.html
  4. “Pre-COVID Trends in Social Security Claiming,” May 2021, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. https://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/IB_21-9..pdf
  5. “U.S. Retirees’ Experience Differs from Nonretirees’ Outlook,” May 18, 2021, Gallup. https://news.gallup.com/poll/350048/retirees-experience-differs-nonretirees-outlook.aspx
  6. “It’ll Take a Miracle,” 2021, Natixis. https://www.im.natixis.com/us/research/2021-global-retirement-index
  7. “The Association of Retirement Age with Mortality: A Population-Based Longitudinal Study among Older Adults in the United States,” 2016, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. https://jech.bmj.com/content/70/9/917.long

About the Author

Hilary Collins

Hilary Collins

Hilary is an experienced finance writer with a passion for turning complicated topics into readable stories with real-world takeaways.

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